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US-China Relations

The Chinese Government’s Influence on the U.S. Media Landscape

On May 4, 2017, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) held a hearing, “China’s Information Controls, Global Media Influence, and Cyber Warfare Stategy.” Sarah Cook from Freedom House provided testimony outlining the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) strategies in spreading its propaganda overseas. Although her report was in English and not Chinese, her findings are important, so Chinascope has included them in a briefing.

The CCP’s Propaganda efforts have taken three primary forms:

1) Aggressive attempts to expand state-run media outlets’ reach and influence inside the United States. These efforts have included high-profile initiatives like Xinhua news agency’s advertisements in Time Square, the appearance of China Daily newspaper boxes on streets in major U.S. cities, and the launch of China Central Television (CCTV) America—recently rebranded as China Global Television Network (CGTN) America. In the Chinese-language media sphere, this effort has been going on for over 20 years, resulting in CCTV being accessible to over 90 million households in the United States and a series of free pro-Beijing newspapers displacing the earlier dominance of Taiwan and Hong Kong-affiliated papers.

2) Insinuating state-media content into mainstream media or other existing dissemination channels. Chinese officials and state-media reports have referred to this strategy as “borrowing the boat to reach the sea” (借船出海). This phrase refers to disseminating Chinese state-media content via the pages, frequencies, or screen-time of privately owned media outlets that have developed their own local audiences. This strategy has a long history of use in the Chinese-language environment, such as via the provision of Xinhua newswire content for free. In recent years, its robust expansion to English-language media has garnered much attention and public debate. One of the most prominent examples has been the emergence of China Watch—a paid insert sponsored by the state-run China Daily—that has appeared both in print and online in prominent U.S. papers like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. In November 2015, a Reuters investigation revealed that programming from the state funded China Radio International (CRI) was appearing on stations in 15 U.S. cities, including Washington DC, via intermediaries of a privately owned media group.

3) Co-opting or partnering with privately owned media to produce and publish content that serves Beijing’s aims: Not all pro-CCP propaganda appearing in U.S. media necessarily originates from writers and editors at Chinese-state run media outlets. Rather, Chinese diplomats and other officials have gone to great lengths to develop “friendly” relations with private media owners and reporters, encouraging them to produce their own content that promotes key narratives favored by Beijing. Outlets and diaspora media owners whose reporting portrays Beijing positively are frequently rewarded with advertising, lucrative contracts for non-media enterprises, joint ventures, and even political appointments. In several instances, Chinese state-media have also purchased small financial stakes in overseas media to solidify such a relationship. Examples of these dynamics are evident in two media entities whose content is disseminated in many parts of the United States. First, the above-mentioned Reuters investigation revealed that only part of the content aired on radio stations owned or leased by CRI’s U.S.-based partner G&E Studio originates from CRI. Other segments are produced by G&E Studio itself in California. Nevertheless, their messaging matches that of Chinese state propaganda. A second example is that of Phoenix TV, the second most widely available Chinese-language television station on cable in the United States. Owned by a former military officer with close ties to Beijing officials, Phoenix TV’s coverage is typically favorable to the CCP.

Censorship and other attempts to suppress the spread of information deemed undesirable by the regime have taken a variety of other, often more subtle forms.

– Direct action by Chinese diplomats, local officials, security forces, and regulators both inside and outside China. These measures obstruct news gathering, prevent the publication of undesirable content, and punish overseas media outlets that fail to heed restrictions.

– Economic “carrots” and “sticks” to induce self-censorship among media owners and their outlets headquartered outside mainland China.

– Indirect pressure applied via proxies—including advertisers, satellite firms, and foreign governments—who take action to prevent or punish the publication of content critical of Beijing.

Source: USCC, May 4, 2017
https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Sarah%20Cook%20May%204th%202017%20USCC%20testimony.pdf

People’s Daily: U.S. Tax Cuts Provoke “Tax War”

People’s Daily published an article commenting on the U.S. tax cuts reform program. The article stated that (the purpose of) the tax cuts is to start a tax war (in the world). It said, “With U.S. tax reform, taxpayers will benefit. Who will lose? Apparently it is the U.S. federal government and other countries that will possibly be affected.”

From the perspective of other countries, the U.S. tax cuts are actually provoking a tax war. In response, some powerful countries will join the competition. They will either be competing with their tax cuts, offering benefits at the expense of their neighbors, or setting up tax havens. At present, such signs are showing in Britain, France, and other developed countries. This will not only throw the international tax order into chaos; it will also diminish the results of the anti-international tax vicious competition that the ‘tax base erosion and profit transfer (BEPS) action plan’ under the G20 and other international economic policy coordination framework previously achieved. In addition, the U.S. tax reform will directly damage the export-oriented countries that are unable to engage in tax competition.”

“Overall, even if the U.S. tax reform program passes in Congress and moves forward smoothly, it will need to work well with other countries in international tax coordination so as to prevent mutual harm and endangering the global economy.”

Source: People’s Daily, April 28, 2017
http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2017-04/28/nw.D110000renmrb_20170428_2-21.htm

Global Times Editorial: The Boundary and Focal Point of Sino-U.S. Cooperation in the Korean Peninsula

China’s State Media Global Times recently published a series of editorials on the North Korea nuclear crisis. Below is an excerpt from one editorial discussing the boundary of Sino-U.S. cooperation on this issue.

“Some of the strategic factors of the DPRK nuclear issue have changed, including that the scope of cooperation between China and the United States is expanding. China has not only strengthened the intensity of sanctions against the DPRK, but also will further strengthen the sanctions if the DPRK takes new important actions that violate the UN Security Council resolution. In addition, the United States has given up its ‘strategic patience’ policy and openly talks about the possibility of launching military attacks against the DPRK. It seems that this is not just a verbal threat.”

“China and the United States seem to have made a determination to become more active on the DPRK nuclear issue. The possibility of a DPRK nuclear issue is declining sharply. Pyongyang faces a strategic choice between confrontation to the end at the risk of survival and coming back to the negotiation table by abandoning its nuclear program.”

“Cooperation between Beijing and Washington will not be without principles. Beijing will insist on limiting Sino-U.S. cooperation to the goal of restraining North Korea’s nuclear-led activities. However, with the development of the situation, it is estimated that Beijing will agree to resort to the severe means of bringing down North Korea’s entire economic activities, such as stopping the majority of oil exports to the DPRK. If the United States implements the financial blockade, Beijing will also likely agree to cooperate.”

“In any case, Sino-U.S. cooperation will not be extended to the military threat to the DPRK. Beijing will never support or cooperate with the United States in taking military action against the DPRK; it will not support the United States in “expanding” its goal of overthrowing the Pyongyang regime.”

Source: Global Times (Huánqiú ) April 18, 2017
http://mil.huanqiu.com/strategysituation/2017-04/10493109.html

Beijing City Encourages People to “Capture Spies”

Voice of America (VOA) reported that the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau issued a regulation concerning, “Award Methods for Citizens to Report Spy Activities.”

“According to the regulation, citizens can communicate through a phone call, letter, or face-to-face reporting methods to ‘report spy activity to the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau. If the clue is useful, those who report the information can receive awards ranging between 10,000 Yuan (U.S. $1,492) and 500,000 Yuan.’”

“However, this frightened many people who had experienced Mao Zedong’s time (the 1950s to the 1970s).”

“Mao promoted ‘anti-spy’ and ‘capture spy’ movements. During their peak time, thousands of spies from the U.S. and the USSR were ‘found’ and many families were torn apart. There was countless evidence proving that the then President of China Liu Shaoqi was a traitor and his wife was a strategic spy from the U.S.”

“After Mao’s death, the Communist Party obtained countless evidence that the previous thousands of spies were wrongfully indicted. Liu Shaoqi was not a traitor but rather a great leader of China and his wife was not a U.S. spy, either.”

Source: VOA, April 20, 2017
http://www.voachinese.com/a/news-beijing-offers-hefty-cash-reward-for-spy-tip-20170410/3803973.html

Duowei: Chinese Arms Sales in Thailand Harbor Beijing’s Geo-Strategy

As an important neighbor of China, Thailand has purchased a variety of weapons and equipment from China, including the S-26 conventional submarine, VN-1 eight armored combat vehicles, Kashi-1C air defense missiles, guards-1B long-range rockets and more. On April 4, Thailand decided to purchase 10 more China VT-4 main battle tanks. It is less than a year since the last time Thailand bought China’s main battle tanks. In fact, not long ago, Bangkok, to a large extent, still chose to buy defense equipment from the United States and its Western allies.

China’s arms sales to this U.S. ally, Thailand, is intended to convey its strategic intentions to the United States: It is important for China to maintain the stability of the surrounding areas, including the stability of the South China Sea. China’s arms sales to Thailand cannot fundamentally change America’s Asia-Pacific policy, but such sales can be used as a means to show China’s attitude towards U.S. Asia-Pacific policy. Its political significance is far greater than its economic and military significance.

China’s military exchanges with Thailand, as well as with other countries and regions at different levels also show the outside world that China has the intention to bear more responsibility to maintain regional security.

The China-Philippines Scarborough Shoal incident, the Sino-Japanese Diaoyu Islands conflict, the China and South Korea “THAAD” dispute, and the Sino-U.S. “freedom of navigation” incident in the South China Sea all have made China’s peripheral security situation deteriorate. The United States’ shadow in these events was everywhere. In the military field, although China has made progress, the gap between the two countries is still very big. In order to encourage the United States to accept China’s rise, it is not enough to stay at the level of being firm strategically. Perhaps more and more intensive arms trades will show that China’s desire to play a more leading role in regional security is not only at the stage of having the idea, but has been put into action.

Source: Duowei, April 5, 2017
http://global.dwnews.com/news/2017-04-05/59808944.html

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